Are You Wondering How To Start Watercoloring?

So you’ve bought watercolor supplies. You know they are good supplies and you’re excited to use them. You’ve got everything out on the table. But now what…are you wondering what to do next?

 

If you’re sitting there wondering how to actually start watercoloring, I’m going to give you a few ideas in today’s blog post.

The suggestions I give below are ways of getting started with watercolors that have worked for me. There are many other ways, beyond what I’m suggesting, but I hope that this gives you some ideas to start with. What works for you will vary based on your own personality and how you like to learn and explore new things.

But one thing is for certain - no matter how you choose to learn: You have to start somewhere. Are you with me?

Great! Now, here are a few ways to get some paint onto that paper.

 Watercolor Garlic
 

 
 watercolor palette

QUICK START: PAINT YOUR PALETTE

Who this is good for: Someone who doesn’t want to start with a painting, but would rather put paint to paper using a quick exercise.

This one is easy and no-pressure. Whatever palette of colors you have, you can create a legend or key for it. Basically, just swatch the colors in your palette.

If you follow these instructions for creating a chart from your palette, you’ll have a handy reference so you don’t forget what colors you’re using!

 

 
 Watercolor Swatch Cards

GET TO KNOW YOUR PAINTS: MAKE SWATCH CARDS

Who this is good for: Someone who wants to dive into the technicalities of paints, appreciates the act of “cataloging”, and sometimes loves tedious tasks.

If you’re not feeling up to painting a subject, I suggest painting swatch cards for the colors in your collection.

This is a nice project you can do for yourself that will take some time but will also teach you a lot about your paints. You can decide whether or not you want to get really nerdy with it by looking up all the paint characteristics or you can simply swatch the paints to get a feel of how they behave when you paint with them.

Plus, when you’re finished, you’ll have a nice record of the colors in your collection!

 

 
 Watercolor Color Wheel

PRACTICE COLOR MIXING: PAINT A COLOR WHEEL

Who this is good for: Someone wanting to put paint to paper and dabble in color mixing before starting to paint.

I would recommend this for anyone that is just getting into painting with colors for the first time. Painting a basic color wheel is the best way to understand color theory without getting in “too deep” but gives you a good general understanding of how to mix colors so you can move onto painting right away.

If you do this and find that you really want to investigate color mixing further, you can paint yourself a color mixing chart.

 

 
 Watercolor Brush Stroke Exercises

GET TO KNOW YOUR BRUSHES: BRUSH STROKE EXERCISES

Who this is good for: People who want to start painting but know they always feel better playing around with tools and learning how to control them first.

One of my recommendations when it comes to supplies is to start with round tip brushes. Round brushes are very versatile and can make a variety of brush strokes. Plus, starting with just one brush shape (even if you have multiple sizes) is much less overwhelming.

Beyond simplifying the types of brushes I have, learning how to control and use them before diving in helps me feel like I know what I’m doing. I like practicing control by doing brush stroke exercises.

Learning to handle the tools you are using is only going to help you while you paint. So this is something that is worth spending some time on if you’re hesitant to launch into painting at first!

 

 
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 Watercolor Grapes

JUST PAINT SOMETHING…ANYTHING!

Who this is good for: Someone who is bold, daring, and ready to challenge the perfectionist within (in other words, YOU)

There are a lot of suggestions listed above that will help you ease into getting paint onto paper. I’ve relied on them all. Especially when I’ve run out of ideas or feel afraid to try something new.

But when I first started, I kinda just started. I stared at my blank paper for a while and hesitated because I wasn’t sure what to paint. It was a little daunting. Then I thought myself “Well, this is going to suck anyways so I better just get it out of the way”. So I just painted some beets using a photo from the internet - I remember it being really bad, and I threw it away. And then I moved on and tried painting more beets.

I continue to approach everything I paint with the same attitude. Assuming it’ll probably suck, but then I’ll learn something and get better (hopefully!).

So, I encourage you to start. Just paint anything.

Here are some ideas:

  • Whatever is in front of you on your desk

  • A snack you’re eating (I often end up painting fruit!)

  • Look up an image of the first thing that comes to mind

If that’s not helping, I’m a believer in finding an example of someone else’s work that you admire and using it for reference as practice. Just remember to be a considerate human being and don’t post it as if it was your own. Either give credit for the inspiration or keep it to yourself as practice.

You can find lots of inspiration and tutorials on Instagram and YouTube. If you need somewhere to start, you can try these peaches or these ballerinas.

 

 
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ENROLL IN A CLASS

If you need more support, you might want to consider joining a local in-person workshop, or an online course. Enrolling in a class is a guarantee that you’ll be instructed on what to paint so you don’t feel stuck.

As a bonus you’ll be able to learn useful foundational information that will help you continue painting after long after the class is over.

When I created my online course, Just Watercolor, the idea behind it was to help beginners build this foundation. It is not uncommon to ask the question: “What do I do now?” - especially when just starting out!

 

There are many resources to help you get started, but the most important is your own commitment to shove that self-doubt aside and put some paint down on paper.

I hope that this helps you with some ideas to get started watercoloring. If you found this helpful and want tutorials, freebies, and more useful resources sent to your inbox, subscribe to my newsletter below!

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As always, thank you for reading,

Susan

 
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